I’ve got a friend who’s path has crossed mine intermittently over the last ten or so years. Recently, and very sadly, his dad passed away at a relatively young age from a terrible cancer. I saw this particular mate, only really in passing about a week ago. The look of, well, grief was written all over his defeated body. It was, for me a harrowing thing to see, and it’s been on my mind a lot over the last week or two.
I’ve written before about my story, and an article that I come back to time after time about dealing with your fathers death can be read here. I’m not really going to re-hash old territory – not totally anyway.
One thing people often say to you when your dad dies (especially at a young age) is how excellent your dad was, and quite often, how much you are like him. Indeed, it’s hard not to compare yourself negatively to this giant of a man that seems to have been created around you.
After the death of their dad, many boys (and men) struggle, trying to walk in shoes that they were never meant to wear. You could call it evolution, you could call it honour, you could call it seeking affirmation – I’m not too sure what it is, but inside a boy is an INTENSE desire to be loved and respected by his dad. When his dad is no longer around (and you can also argue it’s the case with boys who’s father isn’t on the scene), so often he finds himself lost, unsure where to seek these things from. He imagines shoes for him to fill – shoes that his father walked in.
One thing that I’ve been reminded of lately is one of the measures of a man isn’t how well he walked in his fathers shoes. It’s how he walked in his own shoes.
As a son, you never want to walk alone, and rightly so. As a man, some roads you walk down will be lonely. You will be faced with decisions, just like your father did – decisions you will need to make on your own. Sometimes, you know you have made the right decision, but walking down the right path can sometimes be a lonely road. Sometimes you’ll make decisions which turn out to be the wrong decision. We all make decisions with imperfect information – that’s half the battle of life, and indeed manhood itself – making decisions when all the bits of information isn’t available. That’s manhood. It’s about making a decision with the best information you had. It’s about being able to evaluate your decisions and confidently say Í was right’, or sometimes even ‘I was wrong’.
Sometimes, as a ‘fatherless son’, you long to hear your father correct you. Isn’t that strange! There are some decisions that you make, and you know full well that they are wrong, and you just long, long, long for his voice of correction, then restoration over you.
Y’know, your dad, without a doubt, made mistakes, as did his dad and his dads dad. It’s what made them who they are. You’ll make mistakes and you’ll learn from them. Those mistakes wont define you, but they can mould you for the better, if you let them.
Learn from those mistakes. Feel the burn of correction. Tie your shoes up again and keep walking.
Your dad had his path. There would have been times in his life when he didn’t have anyone to turn too. When he didn’t have anyone to bounce an idea off, to sound off or just shoot the breeze. He would have made difficult decisions and felt alone.
There will be times when you do the same. You’ll be looking down the barrel of a hard decision, and in that time, there are only one pair of shoes you can walk in. There’s one pair of shoes you need to put a shine on. To lace up. To put on. Shoes that you need to walk in with the consequences of your own decisions. Your own.
Image from http://sojo.net/blogs/2013/03/13/economy-and-pair-shoes